I’ve always known I was a lot like my grandmother, Duddie Lalley. Or maybe I just hoped I was. Her passing this week has been hard and beautiful at the same time.
As a child, I loved exploring her home–her bright pink lipstick in her neatly organized vanity, her closet full of fancy clothes and colorful shoes, her house full of Asian and European decor from her many travels, her linen closet carefully labeled with sheets for each bedroom (which made for great hiding spots), the Lorna Doone cookies that could always be found in the bread drawer, the exciting toys we didn’t have at our house like Mr. Potato Head. It was predictable and stable to be in her space. Everything was in its place and everything had its place. Grandma was always kind but firm with us. She did her share of grandma spoiling–beautiful dresses from London and kimonos from Japan that Tara and I found much more desirable than our usual wardrobe of hand-me-downs from cousins–but she consistently reminded us that good manners were important.
Trips to Naples are among our family’s best memories. Grandma taught us how to find the best shells, what to order at Pippins, how to shuffle like a real card player, how to make the best key lime pie with only 4 ingredients, and to appreciate the beauty in a pelican. She modeled creativity with her needlepoint and lifelong learning by spending much of her time reading on the porch.
As I grew, I began to appreciate her intellect. I learned she had a Chemistry degree. In a time when women were not encouraged to be educated, she pursued a field typically dominated by men, graduating from College of Charleston in 1946. She was also a lover of history. Since college, each time I visited I would borrow books about foreign lands, The Cold War, and even about our own family fighting in the Civil War. After I moved away, we would write to each other. She would write me thank you notes for my thank you notes (as grandmothers do), she would tell me about her bridge games and New Years Eve parties that ended before 10PM, and I would tell her about my travels, new jobs, and friendships. I love having a record of her neat yet loose penmanship (or is it penwomanship?). Sitting in the armchair in her living room at Brightwood, we would talk of history and travel and politics. I will treasure those visits and her wisdom.
I was with her on her last visit to her home in Naples, Florida. Her nurse Sharon told me that everyone wanted to be Duddie’s caregiver because she treated her nurses with such dignity and respect. She was like that with all people. Her southern roots shone through in many aspects of her being, especially her cooking. However, she did not have to teach us how to treat people, she modeled it. It made me proud and teary to hear that others noticed this quality in my grandmother.
One month ago she was at our wedding. Like the rest of Baltimore, her home did not have electricity, and therefore AC, so attendance proved difficult for her. But she was there. I’d like to think she held on to life just a bit longer to be there. I’m honored to be reading the same passage that was read at our wedding from Revelation 21. It reminds me that there are beginnings and there are endings to all things, and every beginning is also an ending just as every ending is also a beginning. I know this is not new information, but it is fresh for me today.
Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
Ann Dudley “Duddie” Lalley, volunteer
She volunteered at Keswick Multi-Care Center and the Junior League of Baltimore
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
Ann Dudley “Duddie” Lalley, a homemaker and volunteer, died Thursday of complications from a stroke at the Presbyterian Home of Maryland in Towson. She was 86.
The daughter of a civil engineer and a homemaker, Ann Dudley Field was born in Rochester, N.Y., and spent her early childhood years in Winchester, Va.
After moving to Memphis, Tenn., where she graduated from high school, she began her college studies at Rhodes College in Memphis.
When her father was named city manager of Charleston, S.C., she transferred to the College of Charleston, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1946.
After graduating, Mrs. Lalley moved to Baltimore to take a job in a laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
While working at Hopkins, she met her future husband, John S. Lalley Sr., who worked in the blood bank.
“She told a story about how he wanted to spend time with her and would ask if he could practice his phlebotomy skills on her,” said a son, Thomas B. Lalley of Towson.
The couple married in 1950, and Mr. Lalley, who left Hopkins in 1952, went to work for what was then Peterson Howell and Heather.
Mr. Lalley, who later became chairman of the board and chief executive officer of what became PHH Corp., died in 1994.
Mrs. Lalley, who had lived in Ruxton and on Caves Road in Owings Mills, volunteered and was a longtime board member of Keswick Multi-Care Center and volunteered with the Junior League of Baltimore.
Mrs. Lalley later moved to Cross Keys and for the past decade had lived at the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville. She also liked spending winters at a second home in Naples, Fla.
She enjoyed entertaining family and friends, sailing, and playing bridge, golf and tennis. She was also an accomplished needlepoint worker.
Mrs. Lalley was a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.
Also surviving is another son, John S. Lalley Jr. of Ruxton; a daughter, Nancy L. Rueckert of Ruxton; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.